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Md. voters pass ballot items in line with legislation approved by the state

November 07, 2012|By KAUSTUV BASU | kaustuv.basu@herald-mail.com

Local Republicans said Wednesday that although the statewide vote on ballot questions didn’t go their way, they were glad that voters had been given a chance to weigh in on controversial legislation they said they believed had been “pushed through” Maryland’s General Assembly.

On the other hand, Democratic leaders expressed pleasure that measures on same-sex marriage and in-state tuition for some illegal immigrants were approved by voters in Tuesday’s balloting, saying it was the right thing to do.

The majority of Washington county voters — about 61 percent on both — cast ballots against legalizing same-sex marriage and allowing some illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition at public higher education institutions in the state.

In statewide balloting, however, the ballot questions won passage, Question 4 on in-state tuition for some undocumented immigrants with 58.2 percent of the vote and Question 6 on same-sex marriage with nearly 52 percent of the vote.

With the passage of Question 6, Maryland, along with Maine, became the first states in the country to approve same-sex marriage through the ballot. Supporters of a similar measure in Washington state said that they were confident of victory although results were still coming in Wednesday, according to reports. In Minnesota, a proposal to change the state’s constitution to define marriage as one between a man and a woman was voted down.

Another question on the ballot, on the congressional redistricting plan, was approved by about 63 percent of voters statewide. In Washington County, only about 51 percent of voters supported the plan.

Del. Neil Parrott, R-Washington, who many see as one of the main architects behind those three questions, said he was encouraged by the numbers in Washington County even though the statewide results did not go the way he wanted.

“This is a big victory for the voters of Maryland because they got to examine and decide on the issues. The issues got vetted. They got discussed. Just that is a victory by itself,” Parrott said.

He pointed out that this was the first time in 20 years that laws passed by the legislature had ended up on the ballot.

 “It took a monumental effort to get these issues on the ballot,” Parrott said. “Unfortunately, the Democratic Party in this state has a tendency to shut down the people’s voice.”

He said the legislation around these issues had been “highly controversial and had been pushed through.”

Parrott mentioned “needing to take action on other laws if necessary.”

Alex Mooney, chairman of the Maryland Republican Party, expressed similar sentiments in an emailed election night statement where he said that his party would continue to use the petition process and take advantage of it.

“This past year’s petition efforts were utilized for the first time in a generation. Over one-third of the individuals who spoke out to reject Governor O’Malley’s radical agenda were members of his own Democrat Party. Of the nearly 280,000 total petition signers, nearly half of the individuals were not registered as Republicans,” Mooney said in the email.

State Sen. Ronald Young, D-Frederick/Washington, said he was pleased that the three questions were approved by the state’s voters.

“Same-sex marriage is a matter of civil rights. I do not think we need to be in people’s bedrooms,” Young said.

Talking about the Dream Act, Young said the law benefits immigrants who were brought to the United States by their parents.

“They did not break any law ... this is the only country they know,” he said.

Young said the Tea party had not been good for the country.

“Instead of talking about national security or the economy, they like to interfere in people’s lives,” he said.

Elizabeth Paul, chair of the Democratic Central Committee of Washington County, said that a lot of voters did not understand the provisions of the Maryland Dream Act. “This is just not giving away money to illegal immigrants ... there are a lot of requirements,” she said.

Same-sex marriage, Paul said, was a basic civil rights issue, and she was glad that voters had said yes on the issue.

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